Those ideas we have are a funny thing, aren't they? They tend to come and bite you in the nose. And when they do, there is some soul searching we do as parents while we wash our foot sandwich down with morning coffee. In the last years, I have weighed the merits of Ramen vs. starving. Sword fighting with sticks. A clean house. Late potty training and still using a bottle at four.
None of these things gave me too much pause as I re-evaluated my stance. Rolling with the punches is something I think I am pretty damn good at. That is until my feminist beliefs were cordially invited to stand-off with Plum courtesy of the Disney Princesses.
And it all began with this gift bag...
The inside-my-head answer was something like, "Oh that? That is just a punch to the ovaries of feminism, sweetheart." But instead, I answered her. "That is Sleeping Beauty. Ariel. Tiana. Belle. Snow White. Cinderella. Rapunzel." She repeated their names to me. "Sweeping Doody", she said and I giggled to myself at the thought of a majestic turd waiting for a prince to come along and give the kiss of True Love.
Then she smiled and said, "Wuv-wee (lovely)". Lovely. She thinks they are beautiful. Well, yeah. Fast forward a few months and a viewing of The Little Mermaid later and I have a full fledged princess obsessed toddler on my hands.
Me: Plum, come eat your lunch, babe!
Her: I not Plum. I A-wee-al! I a muh-made, mama!
And for a second I cringed. I wanted to say, NOT Ariel! Not Ariel! She's a terrible jerk who sells her soul to a devil octopus and leaves her ENTIRE LIFE behind to chase the supposed life altering (barf) kiss of a dude she's never even spoken too. GAH! NOT ARIEL! NO! She gives up her most valuable possession her VOICE! She cannot say anything! She chooses silence and no soul!! Gah! <end scene>
But then something happened to me as I watched my Plum dance and sing the songs of The Little Mermaid over her lunch. I stopped. She was so happy. I decided right then and there that I would not attempt to thwart her love of all things princess. I decided that I was way over-thinking this. I was giving them some kind of power over me. Not her. Me. In short, I was being a dramatic asshole.
And in this moment I remembered two things...
1. The CTFD method of parenting. (To learn about CTFD, go here.)
Yep. I needed to Calm the F@*k Down. She loves them because they sing and dance and glitter and shine. They are fun. She wants to wear the dresses. She wants to twirl around in them and feel lovely. She wants to be fancy (and um...someone else in this house does, too). She may even want to daydream about romance as she gets older. All of that is ok. What kind of jerk would I be if I told her she couldn't play with her favorite monster truck? Her love of princesses is no different.
2. It's not Disney's job to teach my girl.
That is my job. And someday I know that we will have a conversation about Ariel's choice to give up her voice and runaway from her family and friends and life. Oh yeah, we will. I have no intention of handing her lessons in self worth over to the movies. Although to be fair, Disney has made some strides in recent years to evolve the princesses. I mean, not to my complete satisfaction, of course, but yeah, strides. And there are a ton of lessons that can be gleaned from them. Good and bad. Opportunities to have talks about what beauty is, love and self-esteem. There are amazing acts of kindness and friendship to focus on. None of the princesses are cruel or unfeeling. Most of them overcome obstacles all by themselves. The latest crop have really big dreams that they are chasing and realizing. And while they are all so freeging dainty and frustrating my feminist sensibilities in so many ways, they are just whimsical stories. Magical stories. Fantasies. Stories with a whole lot more to work with than the monster truck shows these two like to watch. Am I right?
So yeah, I can work with this. I can even grow to love them, too. It's possible that I already have.
I found myself dreaming of an epic adventure to Walt Disney World. Then, of course, I started planning one. I opened a savings account and have a 2-3 year plan. I even started a Pinterest board. Because, well, Pinterest. She will meet them someday. And so will he. And I'll be a monkey's uncle at the Ugly Bug Ball if I don't get them to the big show while the world is still this magical. While princesses are still real. While they feel dizzy when face to face with magic. While they are still enchanted. And still believe.
Daddy said something to me last week that hit me in the heart, " When they believe, we do too", he said. "Funny how that goes, right?" Yep. That is the great surprise of parenting. Suddenly and without warning, magic is real again. And it's not silly and it's not faked for the kids. It's just there. And it turns out that I really missed it.